This excellent creativity-promoting project is worth reblogging…

“Takamatsu city launched a program incorporating art into childcare in autumn 2009. Under this framework, artists work together with small children as “Geijutsushi” in day-care centers, kindergartens and Early Childhood Education and Care centers (ECEC center:kodomo en) to support them in following their interests and fully expressing their ideas in an artistic way. With the help of the artists, more and more children are now able to express themselves freely, creating a warm atmosphere where the artists cherish and admire the free-minded expression of children.

Once a week, Geijutsushi, who are experienced artists, are sent to day-care centers, kindergartens and ECEC centers to create a learning environment where children’s sensibilities and creative talents can grow. They do not hold ad hoc workshops or sessions to produce work for exhibitions; rather their engagement is similar to providing childcare on a year-round basis in that they warmly watch over children’s growth from an artistic standpoint.

This program is based on the Italian “Reggio Emilia approach” of early childhood education, which is highly regarded recently. As the first such program by a Japanese local municipality, it has received much attention from childcare workers.

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Every child is an artist Anything can be playful
Launch of “Geijutsushi at Day-care Centers”

“Archipelago,” a local non-profit organization, is entrusted by Takamatsu city to run the program. The NPO is involved in various activities of art and community development in the prefecture and Setouchi islands. It served as the supporters’ secretariat of the Setouchi Triennale 2010 on a voluntary basis.

The program started from a single project proposal prepared by a member who was studying the Reggio Emilia approach and wondering if something similar couldn’t be done in Takamatsu city. The proposal suggested that young artists studying at university participate in childcare in Takamatsu city as a way of enlivening the community. The program is also designed so that every child attending a day-care center in the city will have equal opportunity to experience expressive and creative activities with the artists.

The year before Setouchi Triennale 2010 was held, Kagawa prefecture, including Takamatsu city, began incorporating the arts and culture into urban development. It was then that the government launched such as job creation schemes as “Employment Measures in Post-Financial Crisis Japan” and “Hometown Employment Reproduction Special Fund Project.” These policies were dependent on local support and securing funds, which were crucial to realizing the projects.

Although the Geijutsushi Dispatch Program, in the beginning, was subsidized under the framework of the national government scheme on a temporary basis, the local government decided to take over with its own financial resources. Now in its fifth year, the program sends the artists to 133 facilities in total. Currently, 16 artists with a variety of expertise are actively involved in childcare across the city …

Geijutsushi are good at stimulating children’s interests by using a wide variety of materials to turn everyday things or places into a space for art. The children see them as someone who always brings something new and creates fun moments with them and who always looks at them from a different perspective than their parents and day-care center teachers. “When will they come next?” Children are always looking forward to the weekly activities with them.

Process rather than results

The activities at each facility do not necessarily set goals in advance. Therefore, unformulated and open activities often pose a great challenge as the children, Geijutsushi and day-care center/kindergarten teachers, discover something new and learn from the materials and themes without knowing where everything is heading. People often ask the objective of a session, but such a state of uncertainty actually makes the activities a lot more fun….

The activities of Geijutsushi value process over results. Just as art has no correct answers, children come up with all different answers to a single question. They create an environment where they can fully unfold their unique imagination and creativity, without limiting their potential. Observing and supporting children’s liberal inspirations, admiring and cherishing what the children have expressed also foster such an environment.

Children’s language and actions are also recorded to document the process of their interaction with Geijutsushi. The records are compiled and shown in an annual exhibition and publications. The artists also take part in a variety of events to bring the community and children together, such as the Umi Akari (Ocean and Light) Project of the Setouchi Triennale organized in July 2010 and a tie-up with Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad Co., Ltd. in July 2011. These activities by Geijutsushi using art as a medium may help empower children who will play a vital role in society in the future…”

Read more about the program at Child Research Net “Geijutsushi at Day-care Centers